Sunday, 25 October 2020

Villagers back £60,000 road safety measures

MORE than half of Goring residents support measures to tackle speeding and congestion in the village.

The parish council has agreed to part-fund the installion of a wide, flat-topped speed hump in High Street, east of the junction with Manor Road, which could double as an informal pedestrian crossing.

It also wants to raise and extend the kerb beside the alleyway leading to the Wheel Orchard car park and build out the pavement outside The Arcade, which would force drivers to give way where the high street narrows to a single lane.

Currently some drivers try to force their way through and mount the pavement, putting pedestrians in danger.

The £60,000 scheme would be carried out by a contractor for Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority.

It was backed by 52 per cent of villagers in a survey carried out by the county council last month.

The survey results were revealed at an extraordinary parish council meeting on Wednesday last week, where members unanimously approved the scheme.

Out of 64 respondents, 32 were in favour while 15 (25 per cent) opposed it and 13 (21 per cent) raised concerns. Thames Valley Police raised no objections.

Supporters said the scheme was “much needed” and “long overdue” having been under discussion for more than four years.

The village’s mobility issues group said it was “unequivocally” in favour but said the kerb extension should be big enough for a wheelchair to turn.

The parish council agreed to enlarge it and also plans to ask the county council for warning signs to stop oversized vehicles mounting the kerb and to ensure road markings are discreet as the village centre is in a conservation area.

Opponents claimed the measures would move the danger elsewhere by driving traffic into side streets, although some conceded this would be offset by reducing the speed limit in those streets from 30mph to 20mph.

Others said a formal pedestrian crossing would be better, that a CCTV camera should be installed and irresponsible drivers fined, or that the scheme was a waste of money.

The parish council has earmarked £45,000 for the work, including £10,000 in statutory contributions from developers.

The county council will provide £9,000 and it’s hoped that South Oxfordshire District Council will provide the other £5,000.

Parish councillor Bryan Urbick said: “This has taken a long time and we’re glad it’s moving forward at last.

“We acknowledge the concerns about traffic using other roads off the high street so we will review the impact once the work has been completed.

“The next steps are in the county council’s hands so we don’t have a firm date but we understand the work is imminent.

“We just don’t know how much notice they will need as it will involve some road closures.” Separate plans for a temporary one-way system in the high street have been shelved.

The parish council was investigating the idea to create more space for pedestrians to socially distance while coronavirus remains a threat.

Traffic would only have been allowed to head westwards while vehicles coming from Streatley would have been directed around side streets including Glebe Ride, which was originally built as a bypass for a future one-way system.

The district council rejected an application for funding towards a feasibility study.

Cllr Urbick said: “That was a separate and possibly more contentious issue but we’re hoping our high street improvements will address a lot of the same issues.

“Dealing with congestion and speeding was our main concern as there are now 6,000 vehicle journeys along High Street per day and it can be challenging during the rush hour.

“We appreciate that it’s a complex problem with no easy solutions. Like many rural communities, our road systems were built before everyone had a car.”

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